Former disgraced Republican President Richard Nixon’s “War On Drugs” legacy is alive and well in Lake County, Florida, where the local sheriff decided to produce an anti-drug video to strike fear in the hearts of local drug dealers.
In the video, Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell stands in front of a podium while flanked by two armed and masked deputies. Three of the deputies even appear to be wearing sunglasses (presumably in an effort to look more menacing).
“To the dealers that are pushing this poison, I have a message for you: We’re coming for you,” he said. “As a matter of fact, our undercover agents have already bought heroin from many of you. We are simply awaiting the arrest warrants to be finalized.”
It seemed like Grinnell was feeling especially Trump-like that day, as he went on to threaten the local drug dealers.
“Enjoy trying to sleep at night, wondering if tonight’s the night our SWAT team blows your front door off the hinges,” he said. “We are coming for you.”
Many have spoken out against the video, with one Facebook commenter saying that he was waiting for the sheriff to “saw off some dude’s head with a dull knife.”
Here’s the video.
While the message and imagery may be disturbing, the deeper concerns behind the “war on drugs” are downright terrifying.
Now here’s a REAL public service announcement.
The war on drugs, which Nixon started in 1968, was never about reducing drug use or eliminating illegal drug According to Nixon’s domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman, it was about punishing black people and anti-Vietnam war protesters.
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman told Harper’s writer Dan Baum.
“You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Today Nixon’s so-called “war on drugs” pours in billions of taxpayer dollars into the coffers of U.S. law enforcement agencies, who spend the money on things like military equipment, bonuses, and overtime pay.
Numerous corporations also benefit from the “war on drugs,” as offenders are arrested and put through the judicial process. Everything from phone companies (who price gouge inmates criminal rates to talk to loved ones) to corporations who use slav…err I mean cheap prison labor to produce goods at a fraction of the cost.
Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies focus on selective drug enforcement, going after users and dealers in primarily poor minority neighborhoods, while ignoring richer, whiter areas. White drug dealers in more affluent settings, like college campuses, are generally not profiled as much as minorities.
For them, the “War On Drugs” is a never ending trough that enables them to live out Rambo fantasies of blowing front doors off of hinges and arresting “bad guys.” They also make a tidy profit with immoral bonuses known as civil asset forfeiture laws which allow them to keep the money and property of individuals accused of selling drugs. In many cases, the accused doesn’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose his or her stuff.
Yes, drug dealers are not generally good people. However, they’re not monsters either. In many cases, they are undereducated (in some cases drug addicted) people, from poor communities who have bleak career prospects who are supplying a product that people demand, and if they don’t supply it, someone else will.
Instead of focusing on locking more brown people up, what if the government decided to put those billions into drug rehabilitation and research into a cure for addiction?
Of course, that would mean that corporations and local law enforcement agencies lose out on billions of dollars, and we can’t have that now, can we?